Liz Eden, co-founder of

Photo of Liz Eden

Liz Eden is the Erasmus and Student Funding Officer in Student Fees and Funding at the University of Oxford. Her husband Terence is a civil servant. Together they built as a way to record and celebrate the existence of memorial benches across the world. They live in Oxford and started the project by taking photos of some of the memorial benches around their local area. The site features an interactive map so users can see existing records, and an interface to upload photos of new benches. Anyone can contribute to the site using a smart phone or other camera which can take geo-tagged photos. Simply take the photo, upload it to the site, and type in the inscription. All the code is available as open source at so users can also contribute ideas for improvements to the site. is entirely free to use and there are no adverts. This is an open culture project and is intended to be free. To date the site has over 4,100 records from all over the world.

What is your background? What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
Open Benches Logo

Terence is an experienced developer and business analyst, and Liz is an experienced project administrator. Together they decided to use their skills to create something fun and meaningful that can be shared with other people. is a labour of love for both of them and they run the project in their spare time.

What is your definition of entrepreneurship?

Showing the world what you can build.

How and when did you know your idea was good enough to develop it?

Liz and Terence launched the site as a rough alpha product in July 2017. It quickly gathered attention on social media, and Liz and Terence were interviewed by BBC radio later that month. By putting the project on GitHub, they have welcomed contributions from other users around the world with ideas for fixing bugs and suggesting new features to include.

What would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?

1) Build on the work of others. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel.
2) Listen to your users. Work to understand their needs.
3) You’re probably going to fail. That’s OK. Learn from it.

What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?

Using skills and knowledge to build something to be shared with other people.

What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?

The inspiration for came most directly from Liz and Terence are also inspired by the Open Data movement and the principles of Open Source.

If you had 5 minutes with the above indiv/company/org, what would you want to ask or discuss?

What are the best ways to overcome the specific challenges of a rapidly growing data set?

What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?

No one cares about your project as much as you do. If you want to tell people about it, you must be shamelessly self-promoting.

How have you funded your ideas?

Bootstrapping (self-funded).

Are there any sector-specific awards/grants/competitions that have helped you?

We have used Open Data sets provided by Bath Council.

What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?

Good – there are *lots* of benches.
Bad – local council doesn’t realise the power of Open Data. They need to release more datasets.

If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship resources, where would you send them?

Look at Open Source projects on GitHub. See what has succeeded – but it is just as important to see what has failed. You have to understand the mistakes other people have made.

Any last words of advice?

Be sure to choose a name which is unique on the web, Twitter, and any other social platforms you wish to use.